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Contemporary Youth and the Postmodern Adventure - page 10 / 16





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globalization demonstrations in Seattle, Washington, Prague, Toronto, and elsewhere (see Best and Kellner, 2001), young people played an active role in organizing massive demonstrations against the Bush administration threats against Iraq, creating the basis for a oppositional anti-war and peace movement as the Bush administration threatens an era of perpetual war in the new millennium. Obviously, it is youth that fights and dies in wars which often primarily serve the interests of corrupt economic and political elites. Today’s youth is becoming aware that its survival is at stake and that thus it is necessary to become informed and organized on the crucial issues of war, peace, and the future of democracy and the global economy.

Thus, as the Bush administration carried out unprecedented wars of aggression under a scary preemptive strike doctrines and a new unilateralism whereby the U.S. strives to become the world’s policeman and Hegemon, youth is organizing against the Bush imperialist war machine, along with veterans of past anti-war movements. And as the Bush administration carries out unprecedented attacks on democracy and civil liberties (see Kellner, 2003), some young people are exerting their civil liberties speaking out against the Bush Reich and struggling for a more democratic and egalitarian social order (while others join many of their elders in collapsing into fear, apathy, and confusion).

Likewise, groups are organizing to save endangered species, to fight genetically-engineered food, to debate cloning and stem cell research, to advance animal rights and environmental causes, and to work for creating a healthier diet and alternative medical systems. The Internet is a virtual treasury of alternative information and cultural forms with young people playing key roles in developing the technology and oppositional culture and using it for creative pedagogical and political purposes. Alternative courses in every conceivable topic can be found on the Internet, as well as topics like human rights or environmental education that are often neglected in public schools.

Thus, we would argue that a postmodern pedagogy requires developing critical forms of print, media, and computer literacy, all of which are of crucial importance in the technoculture of the present and fast-approaching future. Indeed, contemporary culture is marked by a proliferation of image machines which generate a panoply of print, sound, environmental, and diverse aesthetic artifacts within which we wander, trying to make our way through this forest of symbols. And so we need to begin learning how to read these images, these fascinating and seductive cultural forms whose massive impact on our lives we have only begun to understand. Surely, education should attend to the multimedia culture and teach how to read images and narratives as part of media/computer/technoculture literacy.

Such an effort would be linked to a revitalized critical pedagogy that attempts to empower individuals so that they can analyze and criticize the emerging technoculture, as well as participate in producing its cultural and political forums and sites. The challenge for education today is thus to promote computer and media literacy to empower students and citizens to use a wide range of technologies to enhance their lives and create a better culture and society. In particular, this involves developing Internet projects that articulate with important cultural and political struggles in the contemporary world and developing relevant educational material (see Best and Kellner 2001, Kellner 2002, and Kahn and Kellner, forthcoming).


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